Amazon.com told a group of senators this week that it will no longer sell books that misframe LGBTQ+ people as mentally ill.
A group of senators complained to Amazon about the disappearance of a book that stigmatizes transgender people. Amazon Vice President Brian Huseman responded in a letter to the senators. “As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally,” Huseman said, “we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”
“When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” is a bestseller. And it is still on sale from other vendors. Its author, Ryan T. Anderson, is a career-long opponent of transgender health care, marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws.
Trans People Deserve Bias-Free Mental Health Care
“Ryan T. Anderson’s latest book on ‘The Transgender Moment’ conveniently ignores reality,” wrote Zack Ford of ThinkProgress. In a detailed critique when the book was published, Ford said, “None of the ‘early praise’ reviews … actually come from transgender people, nor from doctors who care for transgender patients, nor from anyone who advocates for transgender people. The same is true of the content inside the book… which is largely based in junk science.”
Dan Avery wrote on NextNowNext that “many uninformed people will see this book branded a bestseller and assume it’s well-researched, objective and informative. Some of those people may be looking for advice about a loved one who’s come out as trans, or grappling with their own gender identity.”
The decision by Amazon is consistent with its earlier decision not to sell books by Joseph Nicolosi Sr., the godfather of modern conversion therapy. Nicolosi’s books shamed LGBTQ clients and misframed sexual orientation and gender identity as mental illness. Nicolosi also falsely blamed parents for the development of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“It is wrong to shame and misrepresent mental illness. It is wrong to equate marginalized people with mental illness,” said Mathew Shurka, who is chief strategist of Born Perfect and a conversion therapy survivor. “We are not mentally ill. Transgender people and their families, especially, are being defrauded by media that harm them for profit. That malicious fraud is itself the cause of so much mental anguish, self-harm, and family strife for all of us. Amazon is doing the right thing to stop amplifying media that mischaracterize mental illness for profit while harming and stigmatizing families.”
Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said:
“Families look to Amazon for accurate information about how to respond when they learn that a child is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. No reputable business should be complicit in marketing unethical practitioners who exploit and harm families with medical misinformation for financial gain.”
Born Perfect is grateful to Amazon for elevating a broad array of reliable health perspectives, while protecting LGBTQ+ people and their families from pseudoscientific fraud and life-threatening harm. LGBTQ identities are not mental illnesses.
Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).